The Price Is Right Wiki

Shell Game is based on the carnival game of the same name.


  • The game begins with four shells on a table, one of which conceals a ball. Played like the carnival game of the same name, the host mixes up the shells so that no one knows where the ball is. The contestant is then shown four small prizes, one at a time, each with an incorrect price. The contestant guesses whether the actual price is higher or lower than the displayed price. A correct answer wins the prize and a chip, which the contestant uses to mark a shell which they think conceals the ball. Once all four prizes are played, the shells are removed one-by-one to reveal the ball. If the shell concealing the ball is marked with a chip, the contestant wins a large prize.
  • If the contestant guesses the wrong price for all of the small prizes, the game automatically ends in a loss. Conversely, should the player win all four chips, they automatically win the large prize and can earn a cash bonus equivalent to the prize value by guessing which shell conceals the ball.


  • Shell Game was designed to replace Bonus Game, which was not played on the daytime show for over a year following Shell Game's debut. Bonus Game was later brought back into rotation.
  • On October 21, 1996 (#0101K), a contestant named Amiel earned a comeback win by correctly placing the chip by the third shell. They look under the other shells that didn't get a chip placed and there was no ball and a buzzer didn't even sound. He guessed the first three items wrong, but got the last one right and won a trip to Sweden.
  • Shell Game's second set debuted on March 6, 2001 (#1732K).
  • From the game's debut until the end of Season 38 (August 23, 2010, #5221K, aired out of order on August 27), the cash bonus for finding the shell concealing the ball during a perfect game was $500. On October 26, 2010 (#5282K), the $500 cash bonus for winning all four of the small prizes is permanently changed to the cash equivalent of the prize. The cash equivalent for the prize was first won on January 10, 2014 (#6565K).
  • The first ball used resembled a regular tennis ball before switching to a yellow rubber ball sometime in the 1980s. On February 24, 2014 (#6631K), the yellow rubber ball was replaced with a new white rubber ball with The Price is Right logo on it.
  • Only once has the game been played on primetime TV. Sadly, that playing was lost.
  • On August 11, 2015 (#7202K, aired out of order on August 10), a Summer Beach Party special, Shell Game was renamed Sea Shell Game, using seashells, one of which hid a "pearl."
  • On October 14, 2015 (#7243K, aired out of order on October 12), during the show's "Big Money Week", Shell Game was played for $100,000. The main prize was $50,000 and the cash bonus for finding the shell concealing the ball during a perfect game was an additional $50,000 for the $100,000 total.
  • On February 18, 2021 (#9314K), during Big Money Week, Shell Game was played for $100,000, with $50,000 for winning the game and getting the extra $50,000 for winning all four chips and then picking the shell with the ball under it. On that day's playing, the game's new set debuted, with the game played to the left of the turntable, with the Shell Game logo appearing on Door #5, and the small prizes appearing in two rows of two on the turntable, with touch screens being used for the wrong price and the real price.

Nighttime Appearances[]

  • Shell Game was one of two pricing games added during the third nighttime season hosted by Dennis James-- the other being Money Game-- on episodes #079N and #082N, respectively. Additionally, this version offered a $1,000 bonus if a contestant who played the game perfectly could pick the shell with the ball.
  • On the Tom Kennedy-hosted syndicated version, the bonus amount was originally $500, then increased to $1,000. On at least one playing in the second half of the run, the contestant received the bonus automatically without having to find the ball.
  • On the Doug Davidson version, Shell Game (like most of the other games traditionally played on the Turntable) was played onstage while the prize remained visible behind the table. The production of this version used a jib camera which took overhead shots of the game's prop as Davidson mixed the shells. This camera angle had the unfortunate effect of making the black countertop blend into the black floor.
  • Additionally, the small prize platform was placed to the left of the game board. It is unknown if the bonus was in effect on this version.


  • On February 23, 1983 (#4813D), the winning bells sounded when the shell chosen for the bonus cash revealed that the ball wasn't there.
  • On October 6, 1986 (#6211D), when she guessed the second small prize correctly after making a mistake on the first small prize, contestant Deborah did not understand how to play, looking under the first shell to find out whether or not there was a ball before putting the first chip next to it, only to give away too much of a hint, having Bob say, "That's the dirtiest trick anyone ever pulled on me!" as everyone saw that no ball was there. Thinking she was supposed to put the ball under the shell, she then realized her mistake and put the chip by the shell as is normally done. Bob then pointed out to Deborah not to put the chip by the first shell after realizing what she had done and asked her to move the chip, so she placed it by the third shell. After getting two more chips afterward, she placed them on the second and fourth shells. Notifying this result, Bob points to the obvious fact that "I'm pretty sure she's won this!" Bob then went looking from right to left, but there was still no-ball. He then says, "You've ruined my show! You've ruined my game!" and then points to an obvious win, saying, "This would be exciting, but everybody knows the damn thing's not there!" The video link (seen below) is available if you want full proof.
  • On April 5, 1991 (#7985D), Grocery Game mistakenly used the Shell Game sign.


  • The odds of winning the prize are 1/2, and the odds of winning the cash bonus is 1/64.
  • Shell Game was one of seven pricing games seen the fourth taping session of Season 36, which was seen on October 24, 2007 (#4053K, aired out of order on October 23) and November 7, 2007 (#4073K, aired out of order on November 8).

International versions[]

  • On the Mexican version, called "¿Dónde Está la Bolita?" ("Where's the Ball?"), the rules were the same as the American version, using shells and one hiding a ball, and a cash bonus of MX $5,000 existed for perfect playing. Also, the contestant got to keep the ball win or lose.
  • On the short-lived French-Canadian version, the game was called "La Perle Rare" ("The Rare Pearl"), and clamshells were used, one of which hid a "pearl".
  • On the Vietnamese version, called "Sò biển" ("Sea Shell"), oyster shells were used, and the ball was shaped more like an egg. The cash bonus was VND 1,000,000 for perfect playing. On the first-ever episode of Tuấn Tú - Hoàng Linh's era, the egg was adhesive in the shell.
  • In the German version, the game is called "Muschelspiel" ("Shell Game/Shellfish Game") and played with the same rules, minus the bonus. While host Harry Wijnvoord shuffled the shells, announcer Walter Freiwald would start singing a random song to entertain the audience and contestants.


To view the gallery, click here.

YouTube Videos[]

Deborah, the Shell Game Cheater (October 6, 1986, #6211D)
{alternate copy}
Shell Game for $100,000 (October 14, 2015, #7243K, aired out of order on October 12) (Start video at 3:40)

1970s Pricing Games
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Any Number | Bonus Game | Double Prices | Grocery Game | Clock Game | Five Price Tags | Most Expensive | Money Game | Range Game | Hi Lo | Lucky Seven | Temptation | Shell Game | Card Game | Race Game | Ten Chances | Golden Road | One Right Price | Danger Price | 3 Strikes | Cliff Hangers | Safe Crackers | Dice Game | Bullseye (2) | Switcheroo | Hole in One (or Two) | Squeeze Play | Secret 'X' | Take Two | Punch-A-Bunch | Bargain Game | Grand Game | Now....or Then | Check Game | Check-Out | Pick-A-Pair | Plinko | Master Key | One Away | Pathfinder | Spelling Bee | Make Your Move | 2 for the Price of 1 | Swap Meet | Pick-A-Number | Switch? | Magic Number | Cover Up | Side by Side | Freeze Frame | Shopping Spree | Eazy as 1-2-3 | It's in the Bag | Line 'Em Up | One Wrong Price | Push Over | Let 'Em Roll | Flip Flop | Triple Play | That's Too Much! | Bonkers | Pass the Buck | Coming or Going | ½ Off | Pocket ¢hange | Balance Game (2) | Stack the Deck | More or Less | Gas Money | Rat Race | Pay the Rent | Double Cross | Do The Math | Time is Money (2) | Vend-O-Price | Hot Seat | Gridlock! | Back to '72 | To The Penny